Apr 4, 2019, 10:32 am
Fallout from 2018 botched raffle draw continues
A hearing on an ex-lottery official's "whistleblower complaint" grew heated Wednesday over the question of why a Connecticut Lottery Corp. drawing team entered the wrong numbers into a computerized "random number generator" on Jan. 1, 2018, in a million-dollar blunder that required a do-over drawing two weeks later and has never stopped causing trouble since.
Wednesday's heat arose from lottery lawyer Jim Shea's cross-examination of Alfred DuPuis, the lottery's former director of security, on DuPuis' testimony a day earlier that superiors unfairly charged him with "gross neglect" over the mistake by his subordinates at the New Year's Day Super Draw of 2018. DuPuis had said Tuesday, on the first day of his hearing/trial by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, that he wasn't personally responsible for the Super Draw mistake — and that the "gross neglect" charge had been lodged for "retaliatory purposes" related to his role in uncovering retailer fraud in the 5 Card Cash game that had to be cancelled four years ago.
However, Shea, of the Jackson Lewis law office in Hartford that's been hired by the lottery agency, asked DuPuis a series of questions over several hours, many about the now-retired security chief's authorization and approval of a short-form "checklist" for use by drawing team members on the holiday morning when the New Year's Super Draw's winning numbers were selected.
Shea said that the drawing personnel were supposed to abide by official lottery procedures that included illustrated instructions emphasizing that Super Draw ticket numbers went upward from a low of 100001 — and so when 214,601 tickets were sold, the top eligible number ticket number entered into the random number generator, or RNG, "must be adjusted by 100,000" upward to 314601.
But instead, that drawing team entered 214601 as the top eligible number, leaving 100,000 tickets (numbered from 214602 to 314601) out of the drawing — and Shea said said Wednesday that it was because the short-hand "checklist" didn't include explicit instructions to make the all-important addition of 100,000 to the number of tickets sold. Shea questioned the fact that the checklist included steps that seemed trivial by comparison, such as saying that the drawing team should gather in the lottery's Newington headquarters parking lot, should flip a coin to determine which of two RNGs it would use, and even should push the button to set RNG into operation.
"You actually have an instruction... to turn on the RNG by pressing the start button," he said to DuPuis. "And then we get to box 10, which relates to setting the drawing range parameters [from the lowest to highest-numbered tickets], and there's not one word about the critical step of increasing the upper range by 100,000 tickets — is there?"
"There isn't — there are numbers in there," DuPuis replied, defending the "checklist" by saying it noted that the low ticket number was 100001, instead of 000001, which should have been enough direction for Valerie Guglielmo, the lottery employee who developed the checklist under DuPuis' supervision, and the other four members of the team on which she was the designated "drawing performer."
But Shea persisted: "There's no instruction to increase the upper range by 100,000, is there?"
DuPuis replied: "If a lay person looked at this, your answer is correct. But a person who's been trained to do the drawing, when they see lower range 100001, that's the identifier... to increase the range by 100,000." He said that the drawing personnel — two from the lottery, two from the state Department of Consumer Protection, which is the lottery's regulator — had gone through practice drawings and training that should have told them that the low number was 100001, they should "add the 100,000" to the total number of tickets sold.
He also said that a representative of an audit firm, Marcum LLP, wasn't supposed to have been shown the "checklist" and was under instructions to use the full set of lengthy official procedures, and should have caught the error. However, Guglielmo let the Marcum auditor use the "checklist," too, a lottery investigation found.
Shea kept pressing his point, saying that the "checklist" was "missing even a simple comment [to] increase the upper range" by 100,000.
"That is your interpretation," DuPuis replied.
Shea said "it's not my interpretation," but a reality.
"That's your interpretation," DuPuis said.
"There's not even a simple comment," Shea repeated.
The CHRO hearing officer, Michele Mount, broke in and said it was getting "too argumentative," leading Shea to ask her: "You're objecting?"
"Well, I'm trying to control this procedure," Mount said.
Shea said to DuPuis: "Back to your checklist — when you prepared it, you saw fit to tell the drawing team to assemble in the parking lot, you saw fit to tell your drawing team to turn on the RNG, and yet there's not a single word — word, not numbers, word — about increasing the upper range."
"That's your opinion," DuPuis said.
"And as a matter of fact, your indicator" — the low ticket number in the checklist — "didn't work, did it?"
DuPuis' attorney, Eric Brown, objected, and after a few moments it ended.
But the end of these hearings isn't in sight. It's now clear that several more hearing dates will be needed beyond this week, and possibly into the summer, to hear other witnesses. That means it's unlikely that the case will be decided this year.
DuPuis claims that the charge of "gross neglect" against him was followed by the lottery's creation of an "intolerable work atmosphere" that forced him to retire early last November at age 62 and that he is entitled to compensation. The lottery denies his allegations. DuPuis was placed on a paid administrative leave Feb. 15, 2018 when then-interim lottery CEO Chelsea Turner handed him a letter saying he should return to work Feb. 23 to explain why he should not be subject to potential discipline up to termination. But he never returned and used family leave until he finally retired nine months later. He's now collecting a $47,000 state pension and has started drawing on his Social Security benefits.
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